1 April 2009

Foodwatch with Catherine Saxelby

Lupin – dream ingredient or allergy nightmare?

Catherine Saxelby

I have to say right up front, lupin looks promising but the jury is still out. Here’s the story so far. Research from Western Australia published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a bread with 40% added lupin kernel flour lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in 74 overweight men and women over 16 weeks. Compared to a standard white bread, the lupin-enriched bread dropped blood pressure by 3.0 and 0.6mm Hg respectively while their pulse pressure also decreased.

In a 2006 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, researchers reported that eating lupin flour-enriched bread at breakfast resulted in higher ‘feel full’ (satiety) scores and a lower overall food intake (488 kJ less) at lunch than eating white bread.

It makes sense. Both protein and fibre are things dieters already utilise to help them keep hunger pangs away. It significantly reduces total food intake and surprisingly cuts down on their intake at the following meal.


What is it? Lupin (Lupinus angustifolius) is a legume (bean), high in protein (over 40%) and fibre (around 30%), most of which is the soluble type. It’s also low in fat, which is mainly polyunsaturated with some omega-3, so it most closely resembles soy beans. In fact it’s been ear marked as the next major competitor to soy beans as a high protein ingredient in vegan sausages, noodles, breads, muffins or breakfast cereal.

The fat also is rich in lecithin, which is good for the heart. It contains natural antioxidants such as carotenoids (which account for its golden-yellow colour) and tocopherols which are converted into vitamin E.

What can it do for you? Eating foods contain lupin flour can help cut your food intake without going hungry thanks to the fibre and protein content. It is an excellent alternative to both wheat flour and soy products. It has a higher lysine content than cereals and is rich in the amino acid arginine which is a precursor of nitric oxide, a vasodilator in blood vessels. Like other legumes, it is gluten free and its starch is slowly digested, so as an ingredient it would help lower the GI of a food such as bread.

Lupin allergy is the downside. Major food manufacturers, however, are holding back from using lupin flour due to the likelihood of it provoking a severe allergic reaction like peanut (botanically a legume). It appears that people with peanut sensitivity may have cross-reactivity with lupin or the allergy may arise for no known reason.

Currently, food producers are not required to label lupin as a potential allergen unlike gluten or soy. Even though it’s not widely available, already two reports – in the Medical Journal of Australia and a case report in The Lancet (April 2005; no abstract) – describe four cases of anaphylaxis that can be traced back to hidden lupin. Immunologists suggest that allergic patients be tested for lupin sensitivity before eating it.

Where do you get it? At present, not many lupin-based products exist. In Australia, Bodhi’s Slimmers Choice bread is made with 40% lupin kernel flour. This was the bread used in both studies but it’s only available in Western Australia and some outlets in South Australia and Victoria. Website: www.bodhi.com.au.

‘Feel great – lose weight’ is the claim on the Lupin8 label. You add this yellow powder (made from a blend of lupin kernel flour, corn flour maize, oat bran, rice meal and psyllium husks) to food or cooking to reduce hunger pangs. It says it has a low GI on the label, but I haven’t seen any published test results, and there’s only 3 g carbs in a 9 g serving (about a tablespoon). You can buy it from pharmacies and health food shops in Australia and the manufacturer says it will be available in NZ and USA from March/April. Website: www.lupin8.com.au.

Want more information? The WA Department of Agriculture has a really excellent PDF on lupins generally and lupin research and background; and you can find out more about lupin flour at www.lupinflour.com.au.

Catherine Saxelby is an accredited dietitian and nutritionist and runs the Foodwatch Nutrition Centre. For more information onlupin and healthy eating, visit www.foodwatch.com.au.



BrianW said...

A Monty Python sketch featured a would-be Robin Hood named Dennis Moore, who stole lupins from the rich and gave them to the poor. Although he was very successful, the poor argued that money or food would be more practical.

Looks like Dennis Moore was right after all!

Alan Meldrum said...

You could also visit www.lupins.org, a comprehensive site with information on health, foods, allergy information, along with agronomic information for farmers in many countries

Alan Meldrum

Anonymous said...

David Bannerman said: Looks promising. Kowalski in his book "Take the pressure off your heart" speaks about this arginine stuff for lowering blood pressure. Seems lupin has it. Only trouble is as I live in NSW seems it is not available.

James Yewers said...

Irwin Valley Lupin Flour will be made available domestically and internationaly over the coming year. We are doing a lot of work to make the flour available, please keep an eye on our website for a shopping cart to appear. www.lupinflour.com.au

nari said...

if lupin flour is maid by just grinding the dry lupin,so I think that is dangerous,because 1)in Egypt we eat lupin after soaking and changing The soaking water sveral times for few days and salting it,we then eat it as nuts,so soaking removes the toxins.2) Those who try the home remedies for diabetes ground only about 10 seeds of the dry lupin seeds together with some other seeds and take of that only one tea spoon,and realy this reduces their blood sugar level but for few monthes only then their diabetes becomes worse.

GI Group said...

Hi Nari, thanks so much for taking the time to post comments on this story and on the vegetarian one.

Re lupin flour, why don't you check out the lupin flour website (www.lupinflour.com.au). I am sure if you contact them, they will reassure you re the process for making the flour.

We have passed your comments on to both Catherine and Nicole.

James Yewers said...

The lupin flour in this article is made from Angustifolius Lupins which are dehulled to produce lupin kernel flour. Plant breeders in Australia have bred out the toxins and bitterness from the wild species and we now refer to these lupins as Aussie Sweet Lupin.